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The Supreme Court today sought the Jammu and Kashmir government’s response on a petition alleging prevalence of bonded labour camps in the state’s brick kilns.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and H L Gokhale issued notice to the state on the petition filed by social activist Swami Agnivesh, on behalf of a woman worker who was allegedly subjected to repeated rapes by one Manoj Chauhan, said to be an associate of the the kiln contractor under RS Pura sub division in Jammu.

According to the petition, after the woman and her husband expressed their wish to return to their native state in June, the contractor refused to relieve them unless they paid him Rs 3 lakh.

Though the husband managed to escape from the camp the wife and her child were kept under illegal confinement.

During the illegal confinement she was repeatedly raped by the contractor and some others, it was alleged.

The victim and her son had subsequently shifted to a rehabilitation home at the intervention of the NGO and police, it was claimed.

There were also claims about 78 bonded labourers working in Sunderbani in Rajouri district, 23 of whom were below 18 years of age.

It was further claimed that between March and June, all the 78 labourers were rescued from bondage but release certificates of 33 of them are yet to be issued which is an important document for their rehabilitation.

Hence the petitioner sought the court’s intervention in directing the state government to take necessary action.

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